On the hunt for a new textbook

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Upon entering Townsend Harris, freshmen have many fears. Without a doubt, one of them is the mandatory AP World History class. Taking an AP class in the first year of high school sounds intimidating, but imagine trying to manage this with a difficult college-level textbook accompanied by long readings and longer outlines.This issue has concerned every freshman class since 2004, when APWH first became a requirement. Over the years, the Humanities Department has amassed complaints from students and teachers alike about the current textbook, World Civilizations: The Global Experience, and now agree that a change is in order.

Last year, there was talk of replacing Social Studies textbooks. The AP United States History book was replaced in 2007, while the APWH textbook has never been updated. In the end, the American Pageant textbook was purchased for APUSH classes.

According to Assistant Principal of Organization Ellen Fee, this was the wiser choice due to budgeting. “Every year, we are given $65,000 from NYSTL, the New York State Textbook League. I reserve a big chunk of money to get one set of a book and get a bunch of little books. The money has to be spent by April of each year since it does not roll over. Buying textbooks for the AP World classes means that we’d have to purchase for two grades.”

This year, however, it’s APWH’s turn.

Regarding the current textbook, freshman Casey Ramos stated, “It’s really poorly organized and makes the process of studying a lot more difficult and intimidating.”

Sophomore Ivanka Juran agreed, saying, “I find myself reading the same paragraph over and over with zero comprehension.”

Social Studies teacher Aliza Sherman said, “The main problem is that students are not reading the textbook. It is an AP course, which involves a higher level of learning. I hope that the new textbook has more diagrams, primary sources, better wording, and creates a higher level of interest for students.”

“Our last principal [Kenneth Bonamo] said if any department had to update books every 2 to 3 or even 4 years, it’s the history department, although realistically, I don’t think any school could afford to do that. But you have to remember, it’s a humanities school,” said Social Studies teacher Charlene Levi.

One of the frontrunners to replace the current textbook is Ways of the World by Robert W. Strayer. It has been recommended by both College Board and teachers because it seems like a more cohesive and organized text—a major concern of the student body.

A decision will be made by the spring semester, ensuring that the class of 2018 can enjoy the new books.

“My priority is to make the right decision with $60,000. I do not want students to struggle. I have the best interests of you guys at heart,” said Assistant Principal of Humanities Rafal Olechowski.

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